Michelangelo’s prisoner graffiti

Spurred by the horrors of the Sack of Rome, in 1527 Florentines revolted against their Medici rulers and established a self-governing Republic. Even as a Republic Florence maintained the pre-existing Medici alliance with France, Venice and Pope Clement VII (born Giulio di Giuliano de’ Medici) against the Imperial forces of Charles V. The League of …

Update: three treasures go home

I have happy endings to report for two stories: the Chinese bronze rat and rabbit heads and the William the Conqueror silver penny have all returned to their homes. The Chinese bronzes had the most eventful journey there and back again. They were part of a fountain clock built in 1759 on the grounds of …

Police recover huge trove of looted Etruscan artifacts

The Italian Carabinieri Tutela Patrimonio Culturale unit (a national police squad dedicated to investigating stolen art and antiquities) revealed on Thursday that they have recovered a massive trove of looted Etruscan artifacts. The stand-out pieces are 23 travertine funerary urns from the 3rd to 2nd century B.C., identified from their inscriptions as having all been …

First unlooted Wari royal tomb found in Peru

A team of Polish and Peruvian archaeologists have discovered a 1,200-year-old royal mausoleum from Peru’s Wari civilization which has never been looted. Wari tombs with precious grave goods have been found before, but this is the first untouched Wari tomb that bears the marks of royalty. The site surrounding the royal burial chamber in El …

Saint-Gaudens’ Diana to be regilded

The monumental sculpture of the goddess Diana by Augustus Saint-Gaudens which once graced the tower of the second Madison Square Garden (we’re on the fourth one now) and now graces the Great Stair Hall of the Philadelphia Museum of Art will soon return to her brilliant gilded shine. Funded by Bank of America, the project …

Salvador Dalí fruit watercolors sell for $1 million

In 1969, Swiss publisher Jean Schneider commissioned Salvador Dalí to make something new and exciting out of 19th century botanical illustrations. The Surrealist artist took ten images from Pierre-Antoine Poiteau’s Pomologie française: recueil des plus beaux fruits cultivés en France (originally published in 1808; Dalí probably used the 1848 edition) and three from Traité des …

The mystery of the spinning Egyptian statue

Back in February of this year, Manchester Museum‘s Egyptian artifacts curator Campbell Price was walking by a display case of Middle Kingdom funerary statuettes when he noticed one of the figurines was facing the back. Very few people have the keys to the display case and if any one of them had turned the 3,800-year-old …

Unique 6th century gold lady found in Denmark

Three metal detector hobbyists scanning a field on the Danish island of Bornholm in early May discovered a stylized gold figurine of a nude woman. She’s a tiny thing, less than 1.7 inches high and weighing only three grams, but her maker managed to cram a great deal of detail in that small space. Her …

Napoleonic semaphore telegraph recreated

If like me you are obsessed with The Count of Monte Cristo, you’ll doubtless recall the central role played by a telegraph whose operator was so ably bribed by the Count to cause a stock market panic and initiate the financial ruin of one of his enemies. The telegraph Dumas describes as “flourish[ing] its great …

Red Faun travels to US for the first time

A striking Roman statue from the 2nd century A.D. has crossed the Atlantic for the first time. On loan from Rome’s Capitoline Museum, the Fauno Rosso or Red Faun is now on display at Kansas City’s Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. The museum has kitted out its Kirkwood Hall to look like a Roman palazzo with …